October 22, 2016

Willie Patterson has deep roots in Durham.

Born and raised in the Crest Street neighborhood, the 81-year-old has dedicated many years to his community. He serves as president of the Crest Street Community Council, and he’s been a tireless organizer and champion of the neighborhood since he founded the Council in 1975. “The neighborhood is special because of the people themselves,” he says.

Patterson’s accomplishments are many. He co-founded an after-school tutoring program. He’s advocated for seniors, youth, and neighborhood safety. In the 1970s, when plans for the Durham Freeway extension threatened the neighborhood, Patterson was part of the effort to file a class-action lawsuit and successfully negotiate with the North Carolina Department of Transportation. In 1989, he was awarded the Z. Smith Reynolds Unsung Heroes Award.

This August, Patterson witnessed yet another neighborhood milestone in the completion of the Crest Street playground. Organized with the help of national nonprofit KaBOOM!, the Crest Street playground was completed in six hours with over 200 volunteers after two days of build preparations. “It was togetherness,” he says.

Since the build, Patterson has delighted in seeing children at play. “The impact of this playground stretches far beyond the imaginations of the children.”

Watch the video above to meet Patterson and see a slideshow of the playground build.

The project was supported by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, Durham Parks and Recreation, Keep Durham Beautiful, and the Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership.

The Crest Street Playground Build is just one of the neighborhood projects supported by Duke employees through Duke’s Doing Good in the Neighborhood. To learn more about the employee giving campaign and make a donation, visit doinggood.duke.edu.

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